The Best Films Shot in Hawaii

By: Brian Berusch

March 28, 2014

It’s no wonder why so many production companies select the lush mountain and waterfall-laden vistas of Hawaii to shoot feature films seen by millions around the globe. The juxtaposition of bluebird sky against verdant green and every shade of ocean hue you could imagine is quite simply too tantalizing. Factor in that the State of Hawaii offers significant tax breaks for filmmakers, and it’s a win-win for visitors and the tourism industry alike.

Film was rolling in the land of aloha as early as 1953 with the release of From Here to Eternity, but it really exploded across silver screens in Hollywood in 1958 when romantic musical South Pacific became a hit. Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii merged the relaxed aloha lifestyle with the rather new concept of Rock “˜n Roll in 1967, which set in motion a boom in flowered shirt sales, as well as the launch of dozens of “tiki” bars throughout America and beyond.

The 1960s and “˜70s were kind to Hawaii, with TV shows and films such as Fantasy Island, Gilligan’s Island, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, which all set up shop in the country climes of Kualoa Ranch on Oahu’s North Shore. Many productions head to the island of Kauai, where waterfalls and large swaths of fields with mountainous backdrops proved ideal for running dinosaurs (Jurassic Park) or a secluded oasis (Six Days Seven Nights).

Films shot in Hawaii - Jurassic Park setKeiki at Kualoa Ranch on the Jurassic Park set © Kualoa

Many liken the bustling island of Oahu to (both the original and current, depending on your age) Hawaii Five-0 and Magnum P.I., which featured a mustachioed, little-too-short shorts wearing, Ferrari-driving Tom Selleck.

Megastars like Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler are both fans (and property owners) of the Aloha State, having each shot a handful of movies here. Sandler’s Punch Drunk Love (2003), 50 First Dates (2004) and Just Go With It (2011) employed hundreds of locals between Oahu and Maui, and gave thousands of islanders the chance to see the live action.

Lately, huge productions like George Clooney’s The Descendants, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the star-laden Shakespeare adventure saga The Tempest (which was shot on the lightly-populated isle of Lanai), and various scenes from the Pirates of the Caribbean and The Hunger Games series have brought big name stars to Hawaii’s shores.

Best films shot in Hawaii - On set at the beach

On set at the beach © E-PR for CBS

Our partnership with Delta Air Lines means you can enjoy our award winning service on Virgin Atlantic flights to New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago and San Francisco and then travel onwards to 44 North American destinations with Delta Air Lines – earning miles every step of the way.

You’ll also be able to book direct flights from London Heathrow to Atlanta, Detroit and Minneapolis. Plus, you can look forward to more frequent flights from Heathrow to New York and Boston, giving you even more choice.

Header photo: On location © E-PR for CBS

What’s your favourite film shot in Hawaii? Are there any we have missed out? Tell us in the comments below.

Written by Brian Berusch


Brian Berusch

Brian Berusch traded in his Manhattan gym membership for a quiver of surfboards, trail running shoes and a one-way ticket to Honolulu more than a decade ago. Since then, he’s interviewed dozens of celebrities and covered the destination for more than 25 travel and lifestyle magazines. He’s an award-winning Editorial Director, a Today Show correspondent and most recently the publisher of two new magazines. He has yet to “get barreled” in the perfect wave.

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